I learned about the EVS-MORE project (European Voluntary Service – More Opportunities Real Equality) through the Facebook page of CESIE, an association based in Palermo, in February 2015.
The project I applied for was a six months commitment in Berlin, volunteering for a local organization called Gesellschaft für Europabildung or GEB. GEB organizes internships in Berlin for foreign high school and university students, as well as for teachers and PHD students, in different fields: hotels, restaurants, hospitals, event planning etc. The selection process consisted of interviews, also on-line, forms to fill in, and trainings held by CESIE. Once I have been selected, I started to communicate more with the Hosting Organization, GEB, in order to fill in documents, but also to clarify all of my doubts: they did, promptly. When I finally arrived in Berlin in April, the first month passed quickly: in the morning I was attending an intensive German language course while in the afternoon I was getting to know the colleagues, the office departments and their different activities, the specific tasks I had to care about.
These tasks changed during my volunteering period, depending on how many internships we were running, how many students and from which country. Also my personal talents, and my constantly increasing level of German gave me the chance to gain access to new possibilities. I mainly had to deal with the preparation of the documents necessary for each internship project: information for the students, those for the employers, those for the teachers accompanying the younger students and the organizations coordinating everything. I realized how enormous is the amount of work and papers behind every single project, and how important a clear and quick communication between partners is. Everyday a significant part of my time in the office was devoted to this kind of communications. Later these documents had to be printed, signed, stamped and carefully filed for future references. I often organized and leaded meetings with the students we were hosting on topics such as Erasmus+ and European mobility projects: feeling the curiosity and enthusiasm these youngsters showed for such topics, it has always been really motivating to me. Another task that I enjoyed was the preparation of the cultural program for incoming groups: together with Coordinating Organizations and teachers we used to arrange a schedule for visiting museums, historical and cultural places, activities focused on acquainting with the city. Some Italian high schools are long-standing partners of GEB: taking care of this young students I had the chance to measure myself with new tasks (interpreting, mediating issues) and most important to get to know the world of this younger generation.
Some very important moments of my EVS were without any doubt the on-arrival and the mid-term trainings I participated in, respectively in the cities of Munich and Weimar, both organized by the German National Agency. I met many other international volunteers active in the country and we could share opinions and experiences, we took part in many activities, both cultural and more related to the EVS project, organized by prepared facilitators.
Summarizing, I believe that this experience abroad has been crucial for me, for many reasons: on a strict professional level, I had the chance to understand how an organization in the field of international exchanges works; to understand how important is a prompt communication between colleagues and third partners; to learn to positively deal with bureaucracy and deadlines. From a more personal point of view, I think I am more capable of living in a working environment where sharing responsibilities and information is essential; I have greater capability in terms of mediating needs and requests, I now know better how to give help and how to ask for it. Taking part in this EVS basically helped me a lot in a moment during which I was (I still am) discovering and building my identity as an individual, and it is an experience I would suggest to many people.
EVS volunteer within the Erasmus+ project “Many Opportunities Real Equality”
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